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Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Mike Bloomberg Releases Plan to Expand Voting Access and Ensure All Americans' Votes Are Counted

January 10, 2020

Plan Would Combat President Trump's Efforts to Undermine Democratic Process by Expanding Voting Rights, Blocking States from Disenfranchising African Americans

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg unveiled a comprehensive plan to expand voting rights and ensure the votes of all Americans are counted fairly and accurately in federal elections. Bloomberg introduced the voting rights policies as he traveled to Georgia, where the then-secretary of state, now governor, took steps to disenfranchise African Americans in the lead-up to the 2018 election. The plan includes four key pillars for federal elections: Protecting voting rights for all Americans; promoting fair elections and eliminating partisan influence; making sure that all eligible voters are able to easily register and cast their ballots; and ensuring the security and integrity of federal elections.

"The right to vote is the fundamental right that protects all of the others, but in states around the country, it is under attack," said Mike Bloomberg. "That's a disgrace to our Constitution and an insult to generations of people who fought and marched to win the right to vote. We need to end voter suppression once and for all. That's why I've made such a big commitment to registering voters around the country. And it's why as president, I will support a new national Voting Rights Act that requires states to conduct automatic voter registration and adopt other reforms – like early voting – that improve access to the ballot in federal elections."

President Trump has spent his presidency undermining the American electoral system. He has repeatedly declared the 2016 election "rigged," making numerous unsupported claims that millions of people, including many undocumented immigrants, have been voting illegally, according to the New York Times. These racially-biased views were front and center when his voting commission asked to see Texas records that identified all voters with Hispanic surnames. The baselessness of the Trump Administration's discriminatory assault on the electoral process was proven when the commission was dissolved after several lawsuits were filed and multiple states refused to turn over voter information.

The centerpiece of Mike's plan is a series of initiatives designed to tackle the racial disparities in the voting process. For example, nearly 8% of Black adults are prevented from voting due to past convictions — four times the rate of other Americans. There are currently 36 states which require voters to show some form of ID at the polls, a requirement that disproportionately affects Black and Latino voters, Native Americans, transgender individuals, and others.

"Being able to cast your ballot for the candidate of your choice is a basic part of any democracy," said Former Philadelphia Mayor and Bloomberg Campaign National Political Chair Michael Nutter. "But, people of color and minorities have traditionally been actively kept out of the franchise. How? Through voter purges, gerrymandering, and biased voter identification requirements that discriminate against these communities. Mike and I both support making voting less discriminatory and more convenient. Mike is all for creating a non-partisan commission that would draft federal voting standards and establish a new Voting Rights Act that protects vulnerable communities. Mike would block voter purges and federally fund a voter rights awareness campaign, so everybody would know their rights and what to do if they feel they are being violated. This is a common sense approach. And, Mike will make sure it gets done."

"We also need to ensure that our voting process is secure," Nutter said. "We need to upgrade and standardize our voting machines, ballots and equipment. We need to be vigilant about cybersecurity. Because once we get every American into the franchise, we need to make sure that every vote counts, AND EVERY VOTE IS COUNTED. Mike has never shied away from the challenges. He won't here. He's a doer and he'll work hard to make sure our democracy does a better job of including every American."

"The fight to expand voting rights in the south – especially for African-Americans – has a champion in Mike Bloomberg," said Columbia, South Carolina Mayor and Mike Bloomberg 2020 National Co-Chair Steve Benjamin. "Mike's new Voter Rights plan protects the voting rights of all Americans by making it easier to register to vote, increasing access to and accountability at voting sites, and eliminating partisan gerrymandering. As a mayor in South Carolina, where Voter ID laws have disproportionately impacted African-Americans, I know Mike's leadership will increase the participation in our democratic process."

"Voting is at the heart of what makes America great. For the past decade, Washington has diluted protections that were put in place to protect our fundamental rights at the ballot box. It's time for that to stop and for us to ensure that every American can vote and their vote be counted," said Hardie Davis, Jr, Augusta, Georgia Mayor and President of the African American Mayors Association.

"Some states have worked to weaken the voice of African Americans by purging voter rolls, implementing new ID laws, closing polling locations and intimidating voters. This has to end and Mike Bloomberg has a plan to make sure every voice is heard. As mayor of America's most diverse city, Mike knows that we are better when everyone is represented, when all our voices are heard. Mike knows that inclusion is not enough. Everyone must be invited to the party and asked to dance. Mike has ideas that make it possible for every American to carry out the fundamental right to vote for the candidates and policies of their choice."

"Protecting the right to vote goes beyond ballot access to ensure secure elections. The technology of voting has advanced beyond paper ballots and Mike has the experience with protecting data to put us on the path to making sure our votes are counted correctly and that our elections aren't decided by hackers in dark rooms around the world."

"As a leader in women's advocacy focused on generating more viable representatives in American government, I am glad to know there are breakthrough voter reform efforts on the horizon that are groundbreaking to protect diversity and inclusion in the right to vote," said Sharon Nelson, CEO and President of Civically Re-Engaged Women (CREW). "Universally, the right to vote continues to be elusive for Americans, particularly for Underrepresented populations. A solid and universally accessible Voting Protection Plan can help to repair the value of the voting process to make it more inclusive as it should be."

"Mike Bloomberg's sweeping voting reform plan would safeguard civil rights through independent redistricting and new VRA protections, and usher in modern election best-practices like early voting and automatic registration, which reduce barriers to participation said Jarret Berg, Co-Founder of the non-partisan VoteEarlyNY. "Both parties should be prioritizing these shared American priorities, and Mayor Mike's leadership is laudable.

Bloomberg will introduce the voting rights policy in remarks at an office organizing rally in Atlanta. In his remarks, Bloomberg will pledge to make voter rights a priority for his campaign.

1. Protect Voting Rights for All Americans. Fix burdensome voting laws and practices that make it more difficult for Black and Latino voters, Native Americans, transgender people, and people with disabilities to vote in federal elections. Stop voter suppression by banning states from purging eligible voters.

  • Reinvigorate enforcement of the Voting Rights Act to stop discriminatory state voting laws before they are enacted.
  • Block states from purging voters on the basis of inactivity, incomplete cross-checks, or returned mail. Between 2016 and 2018, at least 17 million voters were purged nationwide, in some cases simply because they had not voted in consecutive election cycles.
  • Restore voting rights to people with felony convictions, post- incarceration. In 11 states, individuals with felony convictions lose their right to vote indefinitely. In 21 additional states, those individuals do not immediately regain their right to vote and may be forced to pay onerous fees before full restoration of their rights. Mike's plan would end those practices.
  • Ensure uniform federal standards for voting state-by-state. Create a non-partisan commission to set federal standards for voting in federal elections and eliminate disparities across states, including requiring states with voter ID requirements to accept sworn affidavits of eligibility, subject to reasonable verification.
  • Ensure voter protection on Election Day by expanding the federal observers and election monitoring program within the Department of Justice.
  • Launch a federal campaign to educate the public about voting rights and laws.

2. Prevent Gerrymandering and Eliminate Partisan Influence in Elections. Mike Bloomberg supported efforts in 2008 to pass Prop 11 in California, which created a nonpartisan redistricting commission, and Amendments 5 and 6 in the 2010 Florida elections which ended gerrymandering in Florida.

  • Prevent partisan gerrymandering by requiring states to establish independent redistricting commissions to draw federal congressional districts in a way that does not give an advantage to one party or group, through a transparent and inclusive process. The process is designed to repair damages and address wrongdoings where communities of color have historically, and presently, been disenfranchised.

3. All Registered Voters Should Be Able to Easily Cast Their Ballots. Nationwide, there were 15,000 fewer polling places in the 2016 presidential election than in 2008. In order to make it easier for voters to register and get to the polls, Mike would implement uniform standards for federal elections across states, requiring policies like automatic voter registration and early voting, and ensuring the availability and accessibility of polling places.

  • In order to significantly increase voter registration, require same-day, online, and automatic voter registration in every state, enrolling eligible voters when they first interact with state agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Make voting more convenient by requiring all states to allow early voting, at least 15 days before Election Day, as well as voting by mail, mailing ballots to voters at least 45 days before an election.
  • Require states to have convenient polling place locations, near public transportation where possible, implementing federal standards for a sufficient number of polling places and sufficient polling hours to ensure voter access.
  • Fund accessible voting equipment for people with disabilities. 35 million voters are people with disabilities. Two-thirds of polling places inspected in 2016 had at least one impediment to people with disabilities.
  • Stipulate that provisional ballots posted at incorrect polling places must be counted, subject to reasonable verification. For example, thousands of Texans' votes were thrown out in 2016 and 2018 because eligible voters showed up at the incorrect polling place.

4. Modernize Election Infrastructure So Our Elections are Safe and Secure. 45 states are using equipment so outdated that is no longer manufactured, and election systems in all 50 states were scanned or targeted by hackers during the 2016 election.

  • Provide a regular, reliable federal funding stream for upgrading and maintaining election infrastructure, including mandating the use of standardized, state-of-the-art voting machines and providing training and technical assistance for election officials.
  • Require standardized federal paper or printable ballots, counted by hand or by specified secure devices.
  • In order to protect the security and integrity of federal elections, require the Department of Homeland Security to assess threats prior to elections, in a manner consistent with current cybersecurity practice, and fund audits prior to election certification.

Additional details about Mike's plan are available in this fact sheet.

As Mayor, Mike Bloomberg proposed sweeping reforms to New York State's voting system, including early voting, easing voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting, to make voting easier for New Yorkers. He also supported the concept of nonpartisan elections to increase competition in local elections and give voters more choice, as many elections in New York are effectively decided in the primary.

Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Mike Bloomberg Releases Plan to Expand Voting Access and Ensure All Americans' Votes Are Counted Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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